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Transnational Gangs

'Raza Unida' gang leader sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for racketeering

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A "Raza Unida" gang leader was sentenced on Wednesday to 27 years in federal prison for drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder in furtherance of a racketeering enterprise, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas.

The sentence resulted from a joint ongoing investigation dubbed "Operation Prison Cell" conducted by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Office of Inspector General; and the Corpus Christi Police Department's Gang and Organized Crime Units.

Raza Unida gang leader Rudy Rodriguez, 31, a U.S. citizen and resident of Corpus Christi, was sentenced Sept. 21 to 324 months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and 120 months for conspiracy to murder by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack. Rodriguez pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit murder. Rodriguez and 13 other members or associates of the Raza Unida gang had been charged with violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR), conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms (11 pounds) of methamphetamine, and various federal firearm violations.

The VICAR indictment alleged that Raza Unida gang members committed three violent crimes in Corpus Christi by, including a home invasion in which a man was shot, and two other shootings at Corpus Christi nightclubs. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to a VICAR count which alleged that he and other Raza Unida gang members conspired to kill another gang member, known as "Casper," for stealing Raza Unida drug money. Rodriguez was an inmate in the Texas prison system at the time of the offenses and contributed to the conspiracies by using an illegal cell phone.

Rodriguez's sentences are to be served concurrently. There is no parole in the federal prison system. Rodriguez has been in federal custody pending Wednesday's sentencing hearing. He will remain in prison pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Patterson, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.